The phar­macy spend­ing trap

Kapiti Observer - - CONVERSATIONS - ROB STOCK MONEY MAT­TERS rob.stock@fair­fax­me­

Phar­ma­cies are among the worst up-sell­ers in retail.

Their shelves should be packed with pills, cap­sules and creams backed by med­i­cal sci­ence, not purse-de­plet­ing place­bos, un­needed multi-vi­ta­mins, and herbal ex­tracts sci­ence has not proven ben­e­fi­cial.

I was, I ad­mit, grumpy when these thoughts passed through my fogged brain.

I had the flu, which had turned into a lung in­fec­tion. I was wait­ing for my an­tibi­otics and steroids so I could go home and suf­fer in peace.

I didn’t de­serve my suf­fer­ing. I’d had a flu shot.

In a phar­macy most of the good stuff is be­hind the phar­ma­cist’s counter.

These are the medicines that have passed through rig­or­ous test­ing, and are pre­scribed by doc­tors.

But phar­macy shelves are filled with stuff no self-re­spect­ing clin­i­cian would en­dorse. These are the prod­ucts for un­qual­i­fied


Make ‘‘rea­son’’ your guide Buy veges not pills ‘Pro­mote’ your wealth self-pre­scribers and the wor­ried well.

Some were sold un­der guiltin­duc­ing signs pos­ing ques­tions like: ’’Could you be do­ing more to pro­tect your fam­ily’s health this win­ter?’’

Other pills and elixirs were sold with claims they ‘‘pro­moted’’ or ‘‘sup­ported’’ fam­ily health.

These non-spe­cific claims won’t get their mak­ers into trou­ble un­der the Fair Trad­ing Act, or the Medicines Act, but if those are the best claims the mak­ers can make, I say keep your money in your wal­let.

Pseudo-medicines are costly. It’d be easy to get a $50 a month pill and ex­tract habit, or spend $60 get­ting ‘‘sup­port’’ to beat a cold.

Med­i­cal sci­ence has con­cluded most peo­ple don’t ben­e­fit from vi­ta­min sup­ple­ments, though there are some sit­u­a­tions when your doc­tor may rec­om­mend them.

Gen­er­ally, they are a waste of your money, as are many of the ‘‘su­per foods’’ and ex­pen­sive di­ets that get pro­moted.

Aus­tralian pro­fes­sor of medicine Mer­lin Thomas has just pub­lished The Longevity List, a book de­signed to show peo­ple how to live a long and healthy life.

His con­clu­sion is su­per­food fads are ‘‘mostly a mar­ket­ing ploy’’ and ‘‘those who take vi­ta­mins and other nu­tri­tional

‘‘Med­i­cal sci­ence has con­cluded most peo­ple don’t ben­e­fit from vi­ta­min sup­ple­ments.’’

sup­ple­ments of­ten end up with worse health out­comes than those who do not.’’

My read­ing of the pro­fes­sor’s longevity list is this: Eat some cho­co­late, keep your diet sen­si­ble and low on pro­cessed food, sleep well, ex­er­cise, spend time out of doors, don’t smoke, stay off drugs, main­tain a sen­si­ble weight, seek out love, and be mod­er­ate with the booze.

The great thing about that pre­scrip­tion is all the stuff you can save money on- su­per­foods, di­ets, vi­ta­mins sup­ple­ments, fags, il­le­gal drugs, snack-food and soft drinks.

Far from ru­in­ing your life, avoid­ing this junk will make it bet­ter, longer, health­ier and cheaper.

You’ll also need much less doc­tor-pre­scribed medicine.

Back to the phar­macy. Just as the sen­si­ble shop­per ig­nores the con­fec­tionary and soft drink aisles at the su­per­mar­ket, so too can they ig­nore most of what’s on phar­ma­cies’ shelves.

In­stead, they can keep their money in their pocket where it will ‘‘pro­mote’’ their wealth, not ‘‘sup­port’’ some­one else’s.

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